The SL is the new Crown Jewels of the Leica Family


A long time ago in an era far far away, there was a film camera called the Leicaflex SL, and it was a monster of a camera in terms of size and handling.

Enter the new SL. The Type 601 is built like a German Tiger Tank, with a deadly canon of a lens as well. It is heavy. And heavy is good. The germans have been building big things while the Japanese are opting to make it smaller. Remember the Rover Mini, the diminutive car that BMW bought over and turned it into a BIG car? Mini apparently is just a moniker to the Germans to reinterpret what is small into something bigger.

It is a beast that is milled from a pure aluminum block which can be used as weapon against your detractors who say you can't take a good picture even if your life depended on it.

Many of you would have wondered why the Leicaflex even existed, well there was a time when rangefinders fell out of favor with users and Leica had to innovate. Out came a film SLR camera and this is what you get from German technology. It used R mount lenses and it was later replaced with the R series SLRs during a brief interlude with Minolta. That didn't take off either so off with their lenses. 

So why the SL? Why now? Why the fuck would someone pay US$7000 for a camera body?

Just as there are mountains that people wish to climb, there are people out there who would buy and use a Leica SL for whatever the reasons it has been uncalled for. 

I have been a fan of M lenses. But the SL lenses are something to be avoided. 

The M lenses are manual and come in a nice compact size. The SL lenses are fully AF and will scare any mugger if you swung it at him like a weapon. 

The reason why I opt for M lenses is because of its timeless nature. Being a manual lens, you don't have to fear that some AF motor inside the lens would go broke. The M is also full frame, fits like a charm to M43 cameras with a M adaptor and can be paired with those nice Fujifilm APS-C sensor cameras as well. 

The M lenses are not bulky, and is comparative to what you find with M43 lenses. 

Carrying them around and having a close look at the quality of the imaging will convince you enough to own them for life. And should you sell it, you will find ample buyers on the second hand market. 

The SL lens hasn't got a lens adaptor as yet. If you bought it and didn't like the lens you have for it, you don't have much of a choice on selling it since the number of people opting to buy such lenses are restricted to AF users who are themselves SL camera owners. 

This is probably the only clear reason that I won't be buying into a SL camera. Sure, you get the same Leica imaging but I want my hardware to last too. Digital isn't built to last. It was built to kill time when you needed something fast. 

I am decidedly old school for good reason. I see the value in old school lenses because that is what I feel will last. 

There is nothing like having a camera and lens system you can pass them to someone who can continue to use it. It is renewable technology compared to the throw away technology modern cameras are made of. 

I could for example continue to use a Leica CL rangefinder with a M lens, and pass that down to someone who wanted to experience film photography. They can also mount that M lens on future cameras through a lens mount since full frame is the direction everyone is going these days. 

The last thing you want is to double down on those latest SL lenses only to find out ten years later that the SL cameras no longer exist and there is no mount to reuse it for other similar cameras. 

Photography isn't like what was used to be. Technology has democratized the skill needed to take a nice photo and any fool with an iPhone is qualified enough to be called a photographer. 

Then you have the pros, who keep wanting to upgrade to new equipment for better imaging without really bothering to upgrade their skill. Everything is Photoshopped these days and if you are good with photoshop, you will have plenty of customers who will subscribe to your services. 

Which brings me back to the Leica SL. 

Buy this at your own peril.